Re: the "not to be born" right

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 05:32:16 MST

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> writes:
> > Anders Sandberg, <>, writes:
> >
> > > Hmm, so if neobioconservatives hardwire their children for a "natural"
> > > lifespan and add in some genetic diseases to give them a taste of the
> > > human condition, we should applaud it? After all, things like that
> > > will increase the range of human variation, and it may turn out that
> > > it is actually a good idea as suggested by one of the futures
> > > sf-stories in Nature, where a massive epidemic wiped out everybody
> > > without Tay Sachs-genes).
> >
> > I suppose that if that future came to pass, then in fact people would
> > applaud that devotion to genetic diversity in the past. However from
> > our present perspective we don't know that this will happen.
> Being heterozygote for cystic fibrosis apparently confers an advantage
> against cholera. But if somebody tried marketing a cholera medication
> that as a side effect had the effects of CF (including the much
> shortened lifespan) I guess no agency would approve it and nearly
> nobody would want to take it. There are better ways of treating
> illness.
> My point above is more about whether we should accept all changes than
> whether a certain change *could* be beneficial. Being born with a
> cross on your forehead (due to parents having odd religious views)
> *could* be beneficial in some circumstances, but most likely not and
> would impose quite a bit on the child.

Body modifications of infants unable to make decisions happen quite often. One
of the most obvious examples is circumcision. Admittedly, being hidden by a
loincloth, it is not the same as being branded on the face.

If there are true uploads in the extropic sense, then it might be like a Greg
Bear novel where infants are uploaded upon in- or conception. Then infants
develop in a virtual world and choose their body or bodies later.

In the space of two or three generations, we could see everything change, or
not, and in the space of three hundred generations, we could observe each.

> > > Taking risks is necessary, but taking unnecessary risks is
> > > irrational.

True. Almost not any human is completely rational in a logically objective
sense, or most are in their own sense, with none two the same. A rationale is a
state of mind.

> > >The same goes for genetic modifications; I really doubt
> > > many parents would select highly risky treatments for their
> > > children-to-be. That is not really the issue here, but how to handle
> > > the fact that if parents select genes they might create initial
> > > conditions that are adverse to the person that later develops. Should
> > > there exist some form of feedback or compensation system so that
> > > children can express their rights once they have become persons? It is
> > > not an issue of banning certain forms of radical changes, but rather
> > > making parents aware of the different potential costs of different
> > > changes.
> >
> > What about a parent who takes his child into space on some kind of
> > irreversible journey (say, a traditional SF generation ship to the stars)?
> > Should children conceived on such a trip be able to sue their parents?
> > Should the children on the Mayflower have sued their parents for exposing
> > them to the hardships of the New World? I don't think we can categorize
> > such journeys into necessary vs unnecessary risks.
> Isn't this a very different problem?
> --
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
> GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

About lawsuits, people generally have the right to raise their children how they
would, there are certain rules about abuse and neglect. About lawsuits, in a
suit there are two sides, I think you can find a lawyer to sue anybody, more or

I started reading this book about the genome called _Genome_, it tells me a lot
I did not know. I don't have any biology background except for science-fiction
immersion and the anatomy plates. Anyways, at some point we can tell the
computer what enzymes we want and thus print RNA to make them, in the comfort of
our own homes. Thus any demyelinization of the neuron could be stopped, as
well, any tumors proactively prevented, and cells' multiplication delimited.

As soon as the zygote is fertilized, and then it multiplies, there is the genome
for that future person, if it is born. If the gene absolutely predicts massive
congenital birth defects, it is perhaps better to use a different fertilized
zygote that has a better chance of a happy development and maturity. As soon as
the zygote is then manipulated, then it too easily leads to the spiral of

If adults choose to modify their own genetic code, so be it. If they are not
then mules, then they could pass it as humans. Some forms of genetic
modification of a human would make it not human, more or less.

Tampering with the genetic code is parallel to evolution, except where evolution
is the more or less randomized sum result of incremental mutation, purposeful
manipulation of the genetic code is an extremely powerful action, thus
dangerous, morally and perhaps for the rest of the species, and in the case of
the manipulation gone wrong, dangerous for the being whose genes were changed.

Humans selectively interbreed on a more-or-less conscious level, thus some
30,000 generations bring us from using stone or bone tools to chip chert to
using nanoprobes to shape bones.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:

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